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Spartans get the toughest out of the way

If wrestling tough opponents early in the season results in success down the road, the Somerset wrestling team should improve rapidly.

The Spartans started the 2005-06 season last Thursday wrestling at Ellsworth in a Middle Border Conference dual meet. Ellsworth is the defending MBC champion and the Panthers delivered a 51-14 loss to the Spartans Thursday.

Somerset got three wins in the match, from three of its most experienced wrestlers. Seniors Drew Baillargeon, Justin Neumann and Steve Vanasse brought home wins for the Spartans.

Baillargeon wrestled the opening match of the night at 135 pounds and quickly fell behind 4-1. Baillargeon is not the type of wrestler to panic. He scored the final nine points of the match to win 10-4.

"With Drew, matches are more like marathons than sprints," said Somerset coach Dennis Potter. "It's how he finishes, not how he begins."

The 140-pound match featured the return of Spartan senior Tyler Leroy. It appeared Leroy's wrestling career was over a year ago because of a neck injury, but he has been given clearance to return to the sport again this year. Leroy had a strong start, but couldn't maintain his energy and lost 8-4.

Neumann was able to win his 215-pound match for the Spartans by technical fall, while Vanasse closed out the match with a pin at 125 pounds.

The Spartans are on the young side this year. Five of the wrestlers in the lineup Thursday had never wrestled at the varsity level before.

"Many of our losses were competitive matches," said Potter. "We are a very athletic team, but at this point, we are also a very inexperienced team. Our athleticism kept us in matches, but often our inexperience cost us wins."

At Chisago Lakes

On Saturday the Spartans got their first taste of tournament wrestling this season, competing in the Chisago Lakes Invitational. The Spartans were beaten in their three matches, all against Minnesota schools, losing to Chisago Lakes, Grand Rapids and Hibbing.

Potter said the Spartans' best chance for a team win was against Chisago Lakes, when the Spartans lost 39-29, though all three matches were close.

Spartans who went 3-0 on the day were Vanasse, Leroy, Mitch Grahovac and Neumann.

"We did improve from dual to dual, that was my biggest concern," Potter said about the tournament. "I was happy with our desire to get better."

The Spartans face another of the top MBC teams this Thursday, when they wrestle at home against Osceola. The Spartans will also be wrestling at home next Tuesday, when they get two dual matches in. They will wrestle against Spring Valley at 6 p.m., then battle St. Croix Central at 7:30 p.m.

Ellsworth 51, Somerset 14

135 - Drew Baillargeon (S) dec. Travis Dietzler 10-4. 140 - Derek Foley (E) dec. Tyler Leroy 8-4. 145 - Ryan Foley (E) dec. Mitch Grahovac 8-2. 152 - Trevin Hines (E) pinned Dillon Schaffer. 160 - Luke Huggett (E) pinned Tony Martin. 171 - Clayton Anderson (E) won by forfeit. 189 - Mike Gult (E) dec. Dylan Schachtner 16-4. 215 - Justin Neumann (S) def. Jordan Esentener by tech. fall. 275 - Jon Chisholm (E) pinned Darrin Emmeck. 103 - Chase Kinneman (E) dec. Ethan Bell 4-0. 112 - Frank Prichard (E) pinned Felipe Galvan. 119 - Mitch Reil (E) dec. Alex Praschak 11-4. 125 - Steve Vanasse (S) pinned Andrew Hauschildt. 130 - Joe Huppert (E) dec. Austin Pederson 11-2.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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